Monday, February 12, 2007

Catch A Wave And Your Sittin' On Top Of The World

Unfortunately flood victims in south Louisiana are finding out that raising their homes is no day at the beach. Insurance companies are making it a cruncher and some may be headed for a wipe out.

Even before the storm, Fitzpatrick's Lakeview Drive house was shoulder-height off the ground.

To make it as resilient as possible against any future storms, Fitzpatrick is rebuilding with rebar and concrete pilings, and he is raising the house another two to three feet, as required by the new flood advisory maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to maintain flood insurance coverage. When he's done, the house will be eight to nine feet off the ground.

But Fitzpatrick is encountering opposition from an unlikely source: his insurance company. Allstate told him he's ineligible for homeowners insurance if he raises his home.

"I'm actually rebuilding higher than it was before, but now they're saying, 'We have a rule that if it's four feet above the ground, you've got to get the state plan, the Citizens plan, and it's always been that way,' " a dumbfounded Fitzpatrick said. "I said, 'Ya'll never had a problem with this before.' Of course the home has to be elevated: I'm trying to protect it from the storm surge."

In short, Fitzpatrick is trapped in a post-Katrina insurance conundrum that could affect thousands of people in south Louisiana if other insurance companies have rules similar to those at Allstate. Fitzpatrick is required to elevate his home to maintain flood insurance coverage, but if he elevates he won't be able to maintain a private homeowners insurance policy.

Allstate's excuse seems bogus to me.
Fitzpatrick said his Allstate agent told him that the rule started in 2000 because of concerns that if a house is too high off the ground, people might fall off of railings or try to barbecue under the house and catch the place on fire.
Current building codes require that decks/balcony's over 30" above grade be constructed with a minimum 42" high guardrail sufficient to resist at least 200 pounds lateral force. Besides, I don't believe homeowners insurance covers falls. I would imagine that is covered by ones' medical insurance.

Nonetheless, people in Lakeview are raising their homes and not bailing out. Awesome! My guess is that these people don't use dweebs for their insurance. Kowabunga!


CoachingByPeter said...

It is also important to know information about your location's flood risk to have an idea on how much water might get into your place. Info can be avail in floodplain management office or building department. Anyone can be a victim of financial difficulties because of the damages that brought about by flooding.

The Hopkins Company said...

Everything that Peter mentioned is absolutely critial to know. I cannot stress enough how important flood & natural disaster coverage in addition to your homeowner's insurance. You can never fully prepare for what might happen in the future, but it is best to have a plan and money set aside doesn't hurt.